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April 13, 2023
Written by Flint Hill Admission Team
I’m NOT Changing Schools! What About My Friends?
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: The middle school years are difficult for preteens and teens — and, by extension, their parents. Most teens rank their social lives and the opinions of their peers higher than their own educational needs.
Here are the stories of two current Flint Hill families whose teens did not want to move from their public schools (and friend groups) to Flint Hill, and how they went from “No way” to “OK … I’m glad I did this.”
If your child is resisting or downright refusing to consider moving to a different school, we hope you’ll read these tips from parents who have been through the same situation.*
'Is it too late? Can I still go to Flint Hill?'
Sharon’s son, Kellan, went to a public middle school and wasn’t sure where he wanted to go for high school.
My husband, Craig, and I wanted Kellan to attend Flint Hill, but we didn’t want to push him. We started off by supporting his high school search, as long as he explained his reasoning for the school he decided to choose.
Kellan came with us to Flint Hill to watch some volleyball and basketball, but he was really torn. He’d had the same friend group through elementary and middle school — a big group of kids. He played multiple sports with them. It was everything he’d ever known.
Before the shadow day, we went through the course catalog and showed him what he could potentially do. He was at least open to it.
One area he was immediately drawn to was the arts opportunities at Flint Hill. Kellan loves all different facets of art: painting sketching, photography. He also plays multiple sports.
I don’t think he had a conceptual idea of how different Flint Hill would be. The shadow day was key. He saw how small the classes were, and met the teachers, and his ambassador was great. He saw how life could be there. He was so excited after the shadow day. He said he loved it!
We thought we were good to go. But when it came time to actually commit, the peer pressure from his friend group came out. They said he was ditching them. His first girlfriend was going to a different school. So Kellan rolled back on his decision and said, “I hope you’re not mad at me.”
We told him we weren’t mad and made it clear it was his decision — but we also told him to keep in mind that he could always go for one year and then switch to public.
It’s such a big social change for his age. It was only going to work out if he was the one who wanted to go, because if not, he would’ve fought us all the way.
A month later, reality settled in. We were talking about how overcrowded his high school would be. Kellan asked us, “Is it too late? Can I still go to Flint Hill?”
He started talking about all the things he would gain at Flint Hill that he couldn’t get at the public school. He realized he had to do this for himself.
Now he’s so excited to go and to pick his classes. He even emailed the basketball coach on his own and said he was looking forward to trying out for the team, and asked about summer clinics.
'Yeah, I’m gonna go to Flint Hill next year.'
Jane’s son, Luke, switched to Flint Hill from public school in 8th grade. His sister, Katie, wasn’t far behind him — but she wasn’t thrilled about it.
Luke was very unhappy in the public school system. His school was not as focused on values and community as Flint Hill. Moving to Flint Hill changed his life.
When I saw what Flint Hill had to offer, it was so striking that I told his younger sister, Katie, who was in 5th grade, “Eventually, you’re moving to Flint Hill.”
She fought me. Katie is very strong-willed and needs to get to decisions by herself. I didn’t force her into it.
She was very worried about being away from her friends. My husband and I told her, “You can see people in our neighborhood. You can spend weekends with your friends. We’re not moving, we still live here!”
The most important thing that swayed her, I think, was hearing her brother talk about Flint Hill. We talked a lot about how well the teachers got to know him and how supportive they were — his public school teachers didn’t have the flexibility or time to do that.
Then during the pandemic, out of nowhere, she said, “Yeah, I’m gonna go to Flint Hill next year.”
There were a couple of important things that helped her change her mind:
- She went for a shadow day. Katie did not go in wanting to like it. But she had a wonderful day. She was all smiles. The kids in the Lower School were so welcoming and so nice. I asked her how it went. She said, “Good, but I’m still not going here for 6th grade.” She said she might want to try the middle school, so I backed off.
- She wasn’t the only new kid. I told her, “If you go in at 7th grade, it’s not going to be all eyes on you. The current students are excited for new kids. They want to meet you and get to know you.”
Eventually, I would’ve made her switch schools, but I didn’t have to.
I really specifically believe in the amazingness of the new middle school. It takes the most awkward ages and makes it not only less awkward but awesome! The difference in Katie now is amazing.
*Names have been changed.
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